One of the most-common questions we get concerns figuring out the naming conventions to the Madone 6-series bikes, Trek’s top-of-the-line carbon fiber road bikes. We’ll try to explain things for you now.
Madone 6.0, 6.2, 6.5, 6.7, 6.9. What do the numbers mean??? And where does the Domane fit in?
There are now three versions of 6-series bike frames, the standard, SSL and Domane. The Domane is quite different from the other two, having a unique design that allows for dramatically-greater compliance (comfort over bumps) than the previously-industry-leading Specialized Roubaix. It accomplishes this through a seat tube that’s not directly attached to the top tube, using a pivot & bearings instead. This unique design allows for substantially-greater flex in the seat tube than any other bike on the market. For this added comfort you add a small amount of weight, but power transfer is comparable to the “standard” Madone. Presently the Damone is available in an H2-style fit only (read more about that below).
The standard 6-series frame is available in 3 different handlebar heights, H1, H2 & H3. H1 is the standard race position, which used to be the only way you could buy a high-end bike, until manufacturers got smart and realized not everybody wants that “nose in the gravel” feel. H2 is about 3cm higher at the front, and by far the most-popular version. H3 is higher yet, and takes the place of the “WSD” (women’s specific design) geometry. Please note that all versions have nearly-identical angles & wheelbases, so handling characteristics don’t change… in other words, just because you want the bars a bit higher doesn’t mean you have to settle for a bike that doesn’t rocket up hills!
The difference is that the SSL weighs about 2 ounces less than the standard frame, with the slight loss in weight accomplished through lighter paint (yes, paint does weigh something!) and slightly-thinner carbon in a few places. I own the “standard” frame myself, and have no reason to consider the SSL. The weight difference is nearly insignificant, and both versions ride the same. Cost for the SSL is about $300 more.
The SSL 6-series frame is available in the same H1 & H2 styles, but not H3.
Now, what does that digit after the 6. mean? Basically, it just tells you what approximate component level the bike comes with. A 6.0 typically is spec’d with SRAM Rival, a 6.2 with Shimano Ultegra, a 6.5 with… who knows what, that’s where everything kind of falls apart. And it really doesn’t matter, because nearly all 6-series Madones are designed from the ground-up using the Project One program, where we can design the bike you want & need, with the perfect fit (remember all those options!), for no more $$$ than a “stock” bike out of the catalog would cost.
If it’s a full-on high-end Dura Ace or SRAM Red or Campagnolo Record bike with ultra-light wheels you want, it’s going to be called a 6.9. And it could have either the standard or the SSL frame. On Trek’s website though, they’ll call any stock bike with an SSL frame a 6.7 or 6.9, and not even offer the standard frame at the high end. We think that’s short-sighted, because many will find more value in choosing nicer parts for than the SSL frame for the added $300. Truthfully, most-often the choice of standard or SSL frame for many customers had been determined by the different colors available for each in Trek’s “quick turn” program, where we can spec a bike in one of four colors and have it built & delivered in less than three weeks time (ok, sometimes a bit more, but a surprising number do come within three weeks).
What’s the take-away from this? Don’t get hung up on the number. Decide which frame you wish, and build a bike around it. We’ll help with the details, show you the available colors, and get it ordered. Consider the examples shown on Trek’s website (for the Madone 6.2, 6.5, 6.7 and 6.9) just that… examples of what can be done. Working with Chain Reaction, you can do a whole lot better!